INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY
IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Write a note on politics as a political activity.
Ans. Politics can be defined as the activity by which groups reach binding collective decisions through attempting to reconcile differences among their members.
Politics as a practical activity can be defined as the discourse and the struggle over organization of human possibilities.
It is concerned with the power and the capacity of social agents, agencies and institutions to maintain or transform their social and physical environment.
As a practical activity, politics is about the resources which underpin this capacity and about the forces that shape and influence its exercise. Politics is found in almost all the groups, institutions and societies.
It creates and conditions all aspects of our lives and is at the core of the development of collective problems and the modes of their resolutions.
As we all live in groups, it is important to reach the collective decisions and hence politics is a collective activity. Politics is an inescapable feature of the human condition. Aristotle believed that it is the essential human activity.
In all, politics consists in procedures for allowing a range of views to be expressed and then combined into an overall decision.
Among the broadest ways of defining politics is to understand it as a ‘Social Activity’ – an activity we engage in together with others, or one through which we engage others. Politics, in this sense, is ‘always a dialogue, and never a monologue’ (Heywood, 2013, p. 1). IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
A similarly broad (or perhaps even broader) definition is offered by Arendt (2005), who argues that politics does not have an ‘essence’ – it does not have an intrinsic nature, or an indispensable element according to which we can definitively, and in all circumstances, identify something as political.
Thus, there are no quintessentially political acts, subjects or places. Politics, rather, is the world that emerges between us – the world that emerges through our interactions with each other, or through the ways that our individual actions and perspectives are aggregated into collectivities.
However, the argument that politics is a public endeavour can also be understood more broadly. For something to be public, it need not take place in the public sphere, as defined above.
Something can be public in its orientation; it can qualify as public if it is directed outward, into the world, so to speak.
On this understanding of publicity, the political-ness of an action does not depend on its location in the public or private sphere, but on its public orientation.
Take, for instance, the act of reading a book or watching a film that has been censored or banned by your government.
Reading such a book in a coffee shop (a public space) would certainly qualify as a political activity. But so might reading it in your home (a private space), or, indeed, keeping it on your bookshelf. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Though done in the privacy of your home, these acts are directed outward, into the world, in the sense of making a (political) statement against censorship.
In fact, they might even be considered political in the narrower sense of the term – they do, after all, ‘Concern the state’ in the sense of directly challenging its laws.
Q. 2. Examine the interface of political theory and inter-related terms.
Ans. Political theory is a very important area of political science and is an intellectual tradition which affirms the possibility of transcending the sphere of immediate practical concerns.
From the critical perspective, it also views man’s existence in the society. Political theory is a political science only as there is no science without a theory. Political theory is thus a synonym of political science.
Political Theory is the part of Political Science that explores what a better political world would look like and how we can create it.
Political Theory frequently involves critiques of our present political reality and may even take explicitly political positions.
Political Theory helps us better understand the concepts that have shaped our politics, including freedom, equality, individuality, democracy and justice.
Political theory is the categorization of social thought by a group or by the persuasion or beliefs of a geo-political mass.
Many political theories are founded as critiques towards existing political, economic and social conditions of the theorist’s time.
Political theory can also be considered as a critical tradition of discourse that provides a reflection on collective life, the uses of collective power, and resources within a collectivity. The emphasis of political theory changes over time.
Political theory is dispassionate and disinterested. When used as a science, it describes political reality without trying to pass judgement on what is being depicted either implicitly or explicitly. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
When political theory is used as a philosophy, it prescribes rules of conduct which will secure a good life for all in the society and not simply for certain individuals or classes.
The theorist will not himself have a personal interest in the political arrangements of any one country or class or party. In case of an ideology, it justifies a particular system of power in society.
Political theory is different from other interrelated terms like political science, political philosophy and political ideology.
Political theory is different from political science because of the general shift in intellectual perceptions brought about by modern science.
The objective of political science is to provide plausible generalizations and laws about politics and political behaviour and political theory reflects upon political phenomenon, processes and institutions and on actual political behaviour by subjecting it to philosophical or ethical criterion.
Political theory aims at answering immediate and local questions, it addresses perennial issues, which is why a study of the classical texts form an important component of the discipline.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Also the theory deals with the perennial problems of life and society and consists of the quintessence of eternal knowledge and is an inheritance not of any one culture, place, people or time, but of the entire humankind.
The theories are not the correct or final understanding of an event and are always open to future interpretations from new view-points, each explaining and analysing from a particular stand-point or concern in political life.
The political theory and political science are different in terms of their boundaries and jurisdiction but not in their aim.
The aim of political theory is to supply ideas, concepts and theories for the purpose of analysis, description, explanation and criticism, which in turn are incorporated in political science.
The aim of political philosophy is to give general answers to questions such as what is justice, concepts of right, the distinction between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ and the larger issues of politics. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Also, it attempts to establish inter-relationships between concepts. The philosophy is complex in nature and is understood by analysing the many ways that the acknowledged masters have practiced it.
The concept of political thought is based on the thought of the whole community that includes the writings and speeches of the articulate sections such as professional politicians, political commentators, society reformers and ordinary persons of a community.
These thoughts include political treatises, scholarly articles, speeches, government policies and decisions, and also acpoems and prose that capture the anguish of the people.
In contrast, political theory refers to the speculation by a single individual usually articulated in treatises as models of explanation. It consists of theories of institutions, including that of the state, law, representation and of election.
The objective is to explain the attitudes and actions arising from ordinary political life and to generalise about them in a particular context: this political theory is concerned about/with the relationships between concepts and circumstances.
The political philosophy aims at solving the conflicts between political theories, which might appear equally acceptable in given circumstances.
The objective of political ideology is to give a complete and universally applicable theory of human nature and society along with a detailed programme of attaining it. All political ideology is political philosophy, though the reverse is not true.
Q. 1. What is J.S. Mill’s notion of Liberty’? Explain.
Ans. In the year 1960s, the work of J. S. Mill, ‘On Liberty’ was influential which is seen as an exposition of the negative concept of liberty.
In his work, there was a sense of contempt for custom and for legal rules and norms which could not be rationally justified.
According to Mill, restraint on individual’s actions evil is not entirely unjustifiable. He believed that the objective of liberty was to encourage the attainment of ‘indivi-duality’.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
He added that freedom is not simply the absence of restraints but the deliberate cultivation of certain desirable attitudes.
Mill’s conception of freedom is also rooted in the notion of choice which can be seen from his belief that a person who lets others ‘Choose his plan of life for him’ does not display the faculty of Individuality’ or self-determination.
Mill also believed that very few individuals possessed the capacity to resist and make free choices.
Another concept that Mill focused was on demarcation of the boundaries between the individual and society.
He also distinguished between self-regarding and other regarding actions, i.e., actions, which affected the individual only and actions which affected the society at large.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Mill’s framework rules out ‘Utilitarianism’, as enunciated by Bentham, which would justify interference if it maximized the general interest.
Mill also insisted on the instrumental value of liberty in the promotion of social goods and believed that all restrictions on free discussion should be removed because truth would emerge from a free competition of ideas.
Q. 2. Discuss equality of opportunity.
Ans. In simple terms, equality of opportunity can be defined as the removal of all obstacles that prevent personal self- development which means that careers should be open to talent and promotions should be based on abilities.
There should be no interference of status, family connections, social background and other similar factors. The meaning of equality of opportunity is that equality requires that all individuals begin from a level playing field.
In this sense, equality of opportunity provides an equal opportunity to compete in a system that remains hierarchical. Therefore, equality of opportunity points to an inegalitarian society. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Equality of opportunity keeps the careers open to talents and provides fair and equal opportunities and is therefore institutionalized. This makes the system of inequality seem reasonable and acceptable.
The problem with equality of opportunity is that it seeks to create an artificial disjunction between the successes and failures of one generation and the next and is seen that the liberal position on equality is based on equality of opportunity.
This is in contrast to any substantive idea of equality because these are opportunities which lead to unequal outcomes and therefore supports the idea that individuals are the basic unit of society and society must make it possible for individuals to satisfy their own interests.
An egalitarian society would not deny to some people the genuine opportunity to develop their capacities. The genuine egalitarian use of this opportunity would be to lead a worthwhile life.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
The main objective of the egalitarians would be the creation of social conditions that give the opportunity to all individuals to lead worthwhile lives.
Q. 3. Elaborate upon justice as a term of synthesis.
Ans. The best way to view justice is as a term of synthesis. The problem of justice is one of conciliation.
Justice performs the function of conciliation of different liberties (political, social and economic) with each other and the different equalities (political, social and economic) with each other as well as the task of conciliating liberty in general, in all its forms, with equality in general, in all its forms.
To sum up, justice means the synthesis of conflicting values and holding these together in some state of equilibrium.
There are many writers who have chosen to take sides in the liberty versus equality tussle. One such writer is Lord Acton who made a memorable pronouncement that “The passion for equality made vain the hope of freedom” (he was speaking in the context of the French revolution). W. E. Lecky in his book Democracy and Liberty claimed that, “Equality is only attained by a stringent repression of natural development”.
Both liberty and equality are important and matter and involve one another. Freedom has a better content if there is equality. It is the freedom that enables men to demand equality. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Give men liberty and they are sooner, rather than later, going to ask for equality. There is an interlink between liberty and equality.
Take the case of freedom of speech and vote, both of which can be vitiated by a grossly uneven distribution of wealth.
The wealthy are in a better position not only to contest but also to propagate. The wealthy have easier access to the propaganda apparatus.
According to Harold Laski, “Every attempt of an individual to assert his liberty in a society of unequal will be challenged by the powerful”.
Therefore, political liberty and economic democracy have to go hand in hand. And if we examine several political values, we find though apparently they may appear mutually contradictory, on closer exami-nation, they will be found to be complementary and interlinked.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
The function of justice is to synthesize or reconcile the various and often-conflicting values. Justice also controls the distribution of various rights, political, social and economic in the interests of liberty as well as equality.
The concept of justice grows historically as a process of development of social thought. Thus, it is a growing concept reflecting social reality and aspiration.
Q. 1. Human Rights.
Ans. According to S. Ramphal’s statement, ‘Human rights were not born of men but they were born with them’. These are called as human rights as they are with human beings as human beings.
Human rights can be defined as those rights which are inherent to our nature and without which it is not possible to live as human beings. These rights are important as they help us to use and develop our faculties, talents and intelligence.
They base themselves on mankind’s increasing demand for a life in which the inherent dignity and worth of each human being will receive not only protection, but also respect as well. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
The entire UN charter mentions about the human rights. In the Preamble of the UN Charter, there is a determination to affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and the nations, large and small.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted under the chairmanship of Roosevelt. When the UN General Assembly approved this Declaration on December 10, 1948, the day came to be celebrated as the Human Rights Day.
There is a list of traditional rights from articles 3 to 15 which include: right to life, liberty, to security, freedom from arbitrary arrest, to a fair trial, to equal protection of law, freedom of movement, to nationality, to seek asylum etc.
There are other important rights contained in Articles 16 to 21 which include: equal rights to men and women, to marry, to form the family, to property, to basic freedom such as those of thought and expression, right to peaceful assembly and association as well as a share in the government of one’s own country.
The Articles 22 to 27 talks about the economic rights which include: right to work, protection against unemployment, just remuneration, right to form trade unions, right to have rest and leisure, to adequate standard of living, education and of participation in the cultural life of the country.
In the Articles 28, 29, 30, there is assurance about the social/international order, duties towards the community wherein alone the free and full development of man’s personality is possible and the guarantees of these rights respectively.
The first segment of the International Bill of Human Rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then is the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol. All these rights were adopted in 1966.
Q. 2. People’s Democracy
Ans. People’s democracy refers to democratic models generated by the Marxist tradition. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
People’s democracy was a theoretical concept within Marxism-Leninism and a form of government in communist states which developed after World War II and that allowed in theory for a multi-class, multi-party democracy on the pathway to socialism.
The Marxists were interested in social equality and therefore have their own idea of democracy against the Western model which they say only generates political equality.
After the proletarian revolution when the proletariat starts making political decisions, people’s democracy was established.
While Karl Marx believed in the rule of the proletariat, Lenin changed the concept and introduced the role of party as the vanguard of the proletariat.
However, Lenin did not establish mechanisms to check the power of the party and its powerful leaders to ensure that they remained accountable to the proletariat.
The establishment of people’s democracy meant the abolition of the domination of the landlords and big bourgeoisie and the transfer of power to the people headed by the working class. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
In its content this power represented something in the nature of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry; its peculiarity, however, was that it was born in the anti-fascist struggle and that its sharp edge was turned against imperialism, against fascism.
The guiding and directing force of people’s democracy, from the moment of its origin, was the working class headed by the Communist Parties, which gave revolutionary content to this power and ensured subsequently the transfer of the countries of people’s democracy to the Socialist road of development.
Q. 3. Patriarchy.
Ans. Patriarchy refers to the systemic societal structures that institutionalize male physical, social and economic power over women.
According to some feminists, patriarchy can be explained as the systematic subordination of women by both overarching and localized structures.
These structures work to the benefit of men by constraining women’s life choices and chances. The base of patriarchy can be seen in the reproductive role of women and sexual violence, interwoven with processes of capitalist exploitation.
The patriarchal oppression can be seen in the housework, paid work, the state, culture, sexuality and violence.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
The patriarchy concept can be seen in gender and development theorizing; in order to challenge not only unequal gender relations but also unequal capitalist relations, sometimes seen as underpinning patriarchy.
The feminists often dismiss male- biased societal structures and practices and propose greater female autonomy or even separatism as a strategy.
There is a trade- off between women’s autonomy and the responsibility of men for their wives and children.
The assumption is that gender oppression is uniform across time and space. The modern thinking has rejected such a universal concept, identifying the need for detailed historical and cultural analysis to understand gender-based oppression.
The other social inequalities such as class, caste, ethnicity and race are cutting the gender inequality which could be prioritized over gender concerns in certain contexts. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
The need is of the in depth analysis which considers difference and complexity and the agency of women.
Q. 4. Determining factors of citizenship.
Ans. Each country has its own policies, regulations and criteria as to who is entitled to its citizenship. A person can be recognized or granted citizenship on a number of bases.
There are many determining factors of citizenship which are as follows: Citizenship by birth (jus sanguinis): If one or both of a person’s parents are citizens of a given state, then the person may have the right to be a citizen of that state as well.
Formerly this might only have applied through the paternal line, but sex equality became common since the late twentieth century.
Citizenship is granted based on ancestry or ethnicity and is related to the concept of a nation state common in Europe. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Where jus sanguinis holds, a person born outside a country, one or both of whose parents are citizens of the country, is also a citizen.
Some states (United Kingdom, Canada) limit the right to citizenship by descent to a certain number of generations born outside the state; others (Germany, Ireland) grant citizenship only if each new generation is registered with the relevant foreign mission within a specified deadline; while others (France, Switzerland, Italy) have no limitation on the number of generations born abroad who can claim citizenship of their ancestors’ country. This form of citizenship is common in civil law countries.
. Born within a country (jus soli): Some people are automatically citizens of the state in which they are born.
This form of citizenship originated in England, where those who were born within the realm were subjects of the monarch (a concept pre-dating citizenship) and is common in common law countries.
Most countries in the Americas grant unconditional jus soli citizenship, while it has been limited or abolished in almost all other countries.
In many cases, both jus soli and jus sanguinis hold citizenship either by place or parentage (or both).IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
. Citizenship by marriage (jus matrimonii): Many countries fast-track naturalization based on the marriage of a person to a citizen.
Countries which are destinations for such immigration often have regulations to try to detect sham marriages, where a citizen marries a non-citizen typically for payment, without them having the intention of living together.
Many countries (United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada) allow citizenship by marriage only if the foreign spouse is a permanent resident of the country in which citizenship is sought; others (Switzerland, Luxembourg) allow foreign spouses of expatriate citizens to obtain citizenship after a certain period of marriage, and sometimes also subject to language skills and proof of cultural integration (e.g. regular visits to the spouse’s country of citizenship).
Naturalization: States normally grant citizen-ship to people who have entered the country legally and been granted permit to stay, or been granted political asylum, and also lived there for a specified period.
In some countries, naturalization is subject to conditions which may include passing a test demonstrating reasonable knowledge of the language or way of life of the host country, good conduct (no serious criminal record) and moral character (such as drunkenness, or gambling), vowing allegiance to their new state or its ruler and renouncing their prior citizenship.
Some states allow dual citizenship and do not require naturalized citizens to formally renounce any other citizenship.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
. Citizenship by investment or Economic Citizenship: Wealthy people invest money in property or businesses, buy government bonds or simply donate cash directly, in exchange for citizenship and a passport. Whilst legitimate and usually limited in quota, the schemes are controversial.
Q. 5. Civil Society.
Ans. The concept of civil society is very old and is an important part of the political thought.
The works of Cicero (societas civilis) and other Romans to the ancient Greek philosophers initiated the concept of civil society and in the late 18th century the idea of civil society emerged in the Scottish and Continental Enlighten-ment.
John Locke, Thomas Paine, Hegel and other political theorists developed the notion of civil society as a domain parallel to but separate from the state a place where citizens voluntarily associate according to their own interests and wishes which showed the changing economic realities like the rise of private property, market competition, and the bourgeoisie.
But in the mid 19th century, the idea of civil society faded as the theorists turned their attention to the social and political consequences of the industrial revolution.
The idea was revived again after World War II through the writings of the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, who revived the term to portray civil society as a special nucleus of independent political activity, a crucial sphere of struggle against tyranny.
According to the theory presented by Hobbes, the state plays the most important role as it guarantees peace and self preservation and believed that a civil society may flourish only when the state is strong.
He added that it was a novel argument that the government by institution arises through contract between individuals excluding the sovereign for he is not a party to the original contract.IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Locke believed that the most important aspect of social life was freedom of individuals who first create civil society and then the state which protects individual’s rights.
He believed that the civil society and state are different and proclaimed that the state is a fiduciary power which depends upon the trust of the civil society.
The political thinker, Ferguson believed that civil society is a state of civility as he referred to the deterioration of civic spirit in political society, whereby the successful commercial classes had become servile to the administrative state.
Also, Smith in his writing, The Wealth of Nations elucidated the foundation of the conception of civil society as one of ‘Economic Man’ actively pursuing ‘The necessaries, conveniences and amusements of human life’.
According to Smith’s belief, the civil society is mediated by a social order constituted by private property, contracts and ‘free’ exchanges of labour and it is the duty of the state to protect that particular order.
As per the interpretations of Hegel, the relationship between state and civil society is ‘The creation of civil society is the achievement of the modern world which has for the first time given all determinations of the Idea their due.’
He believed that civil society consists of three different but inter-related things i.e., the system of need and the administration of justice and need for police and cooperation. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
Hegel said that what defines civil society as civil, as opposed to a political society, is its division into various classes and estates that have their own distinctive outlook, interest and way of life.
As per Hegel’s opinion, the state is the highest and the final form of social institution. On the other side, Karl Marx condemned the concept of civil society and viewed the state as the political consolidation of the bourgeois domination that existed in civil society.
Marx believed that civil society was created by bourgeois society therefore it was nothing but the representation of the interests of the bourgeoisie.
Antonio Gramsci believed that civil society is the centre of independent political activity and a vital sphere of struggle against the tyranny.
As per the arguments given by Gramsci, civil society is neither a state of nature nor is a consequence of the industrial society, but is a function of ‘hegemony’, which can be both political and cultural. IGNOU BPSC 131 Solved Free Assignment
He split the super structure of society into two the civil society and the political society and proclaimed that the dominant groups in society exercise hegemony through these two elements of the super structure by both coercive as well as ideological means.
Gramsci’s views were different from Marx in the sense that Gramsci did not consider civil society as connected with the socio-economic base of the state.
He emphasized that the vital role of civil society is the contributor to the cultural and ideological capital for the survival of the hegemony of capitalism, and then reproduced it through cultural terms.
Hegel believed that the civil society is a necessary stage for the formation of a state whereas Marx believed that civil society is the source of power of the state and for Gramsci, civil society is the space where the state constructs its hegemony in alliance with the dominant classes.